They’ve got a nice fancy term now for what inconsiderate, self-righteous, vicious and insecure jerks do — body shaming.
I never will understand why if you don’t like somebody, you don’t agree with their opinion or if you just have a mean streak wider than the Milky Way why you have to resort to demeaning comments about someone’s weight or looks. If it is something you have to do to make you feel better about yourself, then you are the one with the real problem.
Social media unfortunately has made it worse. Normally people had to meet you face-to-face to open their mouths to deliver bile verbally. Now they can do it halfway around the globe and tell it to complete strangers or celebrities by just using a keyboard.
Pardon me for being a bit smug here.
For a good part of my life I endured being called everything from “fatso” to words I have no desire to repeat. My least favorite are people who point blank would walk up to me and tell me the obvious — that I was fat or that I needed to lose weight.
I’m 170 pounds now but before I dropped down to 190 pounds at the end of the seventh grade I weighed 260 pounds. I gained it back after college and shot up to 320 pounds before dropping down to 190 by the time I turned 30.
A few months ago I came across someone who — perhaps a dozen times or so when I was 25 — would come up to me and grab my sides and snicker about my “wide track spare tire.”
This has nothing to do with karma, but let’s just say compared to the shape he is in today I looked like a runner back when I was 25.
To be honest, there was a twinge of self-satisfaction. But it didn’t last for long. I know what people are capable of doing and saying to you when you don’t fit perceived norms.
Also — despite the popular misconception held by people that you would call body shamers today — I never felt emotionally bad about myself because I was fat despite what it seemed was half the world trying to make me feel that way. Physically was a different issue.
It might explain why the only comment— as well as my retort — that stands out in my mind after I went from 320 to 190 pounds in 11 months some 31 years ago, was a remark by a casual acquaintance who had asked me how much weight I had lost.
When I told him, he then replied, “I bet you like yourself now.”
I told him “yes, I do feel better now that I’ve lost 180 pounds.”
He then asked the question: “But I thought you said you lost 130 pounds?”
My retort: “Don’t you weigh 180 pounds?”
Long before that I had been steeled to not let vicious personal remarks pierce my heart. Most of the time I succeed. But it was at that moment that I completely realized I don’t need anyone else to accept who I am as long as I do. It’s their problem, not mine. And when they show their true colors by making it clear how they judge the worthiness of human beings it makes absolutely no sense to listen to anything they saw as it is tainted by whatever their checklist of perfection is for the rest of the world.
Not long after my encounter with the spare tire guy from years ago, I was in an exercise class in a gym in Tracy. A young guy — definitely not a gym rat — had been in the class before. He was going full bore 100 percent but was struggling with the moves much like a yearling trying to find its footing. I know the feeling. Between sets, I saw a frustrated look on his face. Totally out of character for me as I usually keep to myself in exercise classes until I’ve been around people for several months, I walked over to him as the next exercise routine was starting and told him I was impressed as it takes me weeks to get the movements down. He responded with a grin.
To be honest that wasn’t exactly true. I do end up figuring movements out fairly quickly and the ones I struggle with I adjust to my own style.
A few days later he was going into the health club as I was going out.
He told me thanks for the other day adding, “most people just tell me I’m a klutz.” He walked away with a smile and so did I.
The odds of me ever coming across his path again is close to zilch. RIPPED classes clearly aren’t his thing.
But the fact I had countered negative observations that others felt compelled to give him made me feel good. I’ll take being a bit smug.
The world has more than enough negative barbs that we complain bitterly about. But it’s funny on the things that really count we either remain silent or pile on.
Not that we ever mastered it, but as communication becomes more and more pervasive, instantaneous and isolated we’ve lost the art of effective commutation.
As corny as it might sound, we’ve forgotten two simple words that my grandmother would tell me to live by after admonishing me not to go around with a chip on my shoulder and to refrain from doing what other people do to you as that makes you no different.
The two words? Be sweet.
You can even Tweet them.